Jun 11 2012

News - D-Link Announces MovieNite Plus (DSM-312)

D-Link MovieNite Plus

You'd be forgiven if it seems like D-Link just introduced the "MovieNite" because it's only been a few months since the DSM-310 was announced. Obviously they are discrete devices, with the first rev offering only six channels - VUDU, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Picasa, and mydlink. More is better, and channel count matters; so today we get the "MovieNite Plus" (DSM-312) which builds on the existing capability, adding 130+ apps and content sources for about $30 ($79.99) more than the earlier model. Check out the full PR and PDF spec sheet after the click.

Jun 07 2012

News - NETGEAR Announces NTV200S Media Streamer


NETGEAR just announced the NTV200S (aka NTV PRO) as successor to their popular NTV200 media streamer this morning. Those with familiar with the previous device will be forgiven for not noticing the difference as it essentially the same device (offering all the good stuff we loved like VUDU and Netflix) just with WiDi support (via 2x 2.4GHz antennas) for $20 more ($69.99 v. $49.99) - which is a steal if you were looking at adding that feature to your home theater (standalone WiDi devices usually run $80-$100).

Datasheet, PR and more information after the click.

Mar 15 2012

News - Walmart to Convert Disc to Digital for Vudu and UltraViolet

Part of the promise of UltraViolet has always been to make it possible for consumers to buy a movie once and play it anywhere by storing a digital copy in an online account. In the last couple of weeks, talk had come up that the studios backing UltraViolet were looking into ways of allowing consumers to convert any of their DVDs or Blu-Rays into UltraViolet titles. The initial plans had called for retailers to assist in the process in some manner, and sure enough, Walmart has stepped up to announce that they will be participating. Walmart will offer in-store disc-to-digital conversions that will provide consumers with an online copy of a movie in Walmart's Vudu streaming service. At the same time, Walmart is indicating that any UltraViolet content acquired through other systems will also be available through Vudu. Details are still a bit sparse on how exactly the process will work, but Walmart is at least giving prices. It may not be free, but it sure beats buying a movie all over again just to go UltraViolet.

Vudu Logo

Walmart has partnered with five studios: Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers. Adding a standard definition copy of a DVD or HD copy of a Blu-ray will cost two dollars, while upgrading DVDs to HD will cost five dollars. Walmart is also claiming that any movies that customers have acquired through other UltraViolet sources (like the UltraViolet digital copies that come with some Blu-ray purchases) will be playable through Vudu, as well.

The Verge

Jan 13 2012

News - Dune HD - CES 2012

Dune HDAnyone who's read our reviews of the Dune HD media streamers, know that they provide an excellent local media playback experience but there are some gaps around 3D Blu-ray and video processing where it would be great to see some improvement. Fortunately both of these will be addressed when the Dune HD Pro (click through for a gallery and further discussion) ships because it is based around Sigma Designs 8910 flagship system on a chip (SOC) which includes HDMI 1.4 and VXP. Unfortunately due to some issues around the availability of the 8910 the actual date for delivering the Pro has slipped from March to June/July (as a best guess). This delay should not impact the release of VUDU for Dune HD players as the port is complete and it is intended for all models.

Jan 04 2012

News - Roku Announces Over the Top on Stick

Roku OTT Stick

If your display is more than a year old, you know what it's like to have been left behind by the OEM's Over the Top (OTT) platform. It's not hard to fix that by putting a Roku or other OTT streamer next to the display, but in some places (like a slim wall mount, bedroom, etc.) it can be difficult to get the install looking as clean as it should. Roku will be addressing this issue, with their newest streamer, which will connect to any Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) equipped device (not just TVs), which eliminates the need for a separate power source.

The PR (available on the next page) doesn't state what resolutions and features will be supported, but let's hope it's is the full feature set (1080p & DD+) offered by the top-of-the-line Roku 2 XS as well as HDMI CEC (which is currently missing), because needing two remotes to enable this incredibly slick solution would be a thumb in the eye.

Dec 21 2011

News - Xbox Live TV Round Three: UFC, VUDU, DailyMotion and More

In what is beginning to feel like a weekly ritual, Microsoft has released another round of video apps in support of their new Xbox Live TV initiative. The UFC app is the heavyweight in this group, especially with the attention surrounding the big fight coming up New Year's Eve, but VUDU might be a popular addition for movie fans. DailyMotion fills the wide release category that YouTube filled in last week's video app collection with availability in more than 25 countries. There are also a couple of new channels specific to the UK, Australia, and France.

Ballmer on Xbox

We are now a goodly part of the way through the list of content partners that Microsoft initially announced. On their current weekly release schedule, they should be just right to finish up the list during CES, which begs the question, then what? Might Microsoft be timing the releases so that the first wave of apps ends just in time for the announcement of another list of content partners at CES, or can we look forward to a big chunk of Ballmer's press conference being given over to a recap of what they have already released?

Xbox 360 is building on its expansive catalog of movies, sports, television and music and we’re happy to offer* the following new entertainment experiences starting today in various regions on Xbox LIVE:

· 4 on Demand (C4). United Kingdom 
· ABC iView (Australian Broadcasting Corp.). Australia 
· Dailymotion. Available in 34 countries globally** 
· Demand 5 (Five). United Kingdom 
· M6. France 
· MSN Video. France 
· UFC on Xbox LIVE (UFC). Canada, United States 
· VUDU (Wal-Mart). United States

Major Nelson

Dec 18 2011

News - Comparison of Paid Video Streaming Services Updated

Which video service is right for you? Are you looking for a pure streaming play and trying to decide between Netflix and Hulu Plus? Perhaps you prefer to rent or buy your videos and are trying to decide between iTunes or VUDU. Maybe Amazon Prime Instant Video, with its bit of everything approach is the best of all worlds. Fortunately, our friend Gabe over at Tech of the Hub stands ready to help you with your decision-making. He has updated his streaming video service comparison with a special focus on how Amazon Instant Video and Netflix stack up to each other. Be sure to check it out.

Streaming Video Services Comparison

The newest version of our paid streaming video streaming comparison is now available. This version goes a little deeper breaking out counts of TV episodes when possible. There is also a breakdown of closed captions on movies versus TV across the various services.

Tech of the Hub

Oct 29 2011

News - Video Demo of Xbox Companion App Hints at Possible VUDU on Xbox 360

A few weeks ago Microsoft dropped the veil on its Xbox TV plans, and at the same time released a video that provided a glimpse of the previously unannounced Xbox Companion App for Windows Phone 7. A few days ago Microsoft and Nokia had a big shindig at Nokia World to show off Nokia's new Windows phones and Microsoft posted a couple of video demos of the Xbox Companion App up on the Windows Phone Blog.

A few weeks back I told you about the Xbox Companion App for Windows Phone, a handy (and free!) utility that let you find, learn more about and control content from Xbox LIVE Marketplace on your Xbox 360 straight from your Windows Phone.  Today on the floor at Nokia World the Xbox team was showing it off, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to shoot a demo so you can see how it actually works. 

Windows Phone Blog

The videos show some nice integration and are well worth checking out even if you don't have a Windows Phone 7 phone and an Xbox 360. I meant to write about the video when it first popped up in my RSS feed, but I was having some trouble getting it to play back on my Windows 8 DP test machine and put it off until I could watch it on another machine.  

Then I forgot about it. 


In the meantime, the folks over at Engadget gave the video a once over and noticed something that, honestly, I probably would have missed.

Also seen in both of the demo videos? An orange tile suspiciously labeled Vudu Movies, despite the lack of any official announcement that the (currently PS3 exclusive) Wal-mart owned service is coming to Xbox Live. 


Oct 25 2011

News - First 7.1 Surround Sound Mix Available Via Online Streaming

One of the biggest reasons I am not a fan of many only streaming services is the lack of true surround sound, and high quality, high bit rate video. While I still subscribe to Netflix merely for the convenience factor for my kids, I honestly hardly ever use the service to watch movies myself.

Earlier this week Dolby Laboratories and Vudu started streaming Walt Disney Pictures' Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides with a Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 audio track the first ever movie available with true 7.1 audio streaming over the internet. This is some great news and hopefully signs that things are changing and we soon will see everything streaming in at least 5.1 audio.

Dolby Laboratories, Inc., just enabled the first 7.1-channel surround sound entertainment experience available to streaming media using Dolby Digital Plus audio. VUDU's video-on-demand movie service began streaming Walt Disney Pictures' Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 audio.To date, more than 30 films have been mixed in 7.1 for theatrical release. Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 allows content providers to enable these amazing 7.1 surround sound mixes created for the movie theater to be experienced in the home via streamed media.

Home Theater Review

Sep 14 2011

News - The New Netgear NeoTV 200

Every day we are seeing more and more device manufactures joining the streaming set top box market. Netgear has recently joined that market with the announcement of the NeoTV 200. The unit, out of the box, will support the standard set of online streaming services, Netflix, Vudu, and a few other services. The unit will support 1080p streaming, has built in 802.11N wireless, and has full HDMI support with 5.1 surround sound. Not a bad looking unit, another great feature that I like is it has both Android and iOS app support right out of the gate.

Former Roku licensee Netgear is now taking them and Apple TV on as they go solo with their latest digital media streamer. The new NeoTV 200, which we first learned of last month, “turns your TV into a Smart TV” for all of 80 bucks. Like Roku, the requisite Netflix app is present, but Netgear appears to have slightly better hardware specs for the money (when it comes to networking and audio output)… along with a YouTube app and Vudu video ondemand. Further, free Android and iPhone smartphone remote control apps will be made available.

Zatz Not Funny

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